Swimming against the Current Muslim Conversion to Christianity in the Early Islamic Period

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Christian C. Sahner



This article explores Muslim conversion to Christianity using a body of hagio-graphical sources in Arabic, Armenian, Georgian, Greek, and Latin. Through these lives of Christian martyrs, the article seeks to understand why Muslims undertook the surprising journey from “mosque to church” in the early centuries after the conquests. Many studies of Islamization are teleological, aiming to explain the large-scale conversion of the Middle East by the end of the Crusades. In contrast, this article aims to show why Islamization—especially in the Umayyad and early ʿAbbāsid periods—could be highly contingent, even fragile, at a time when Muslims formed a numerical minority in many regions under their control.

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